Press secretary in the Presidency Albertus Aochamub narrates his experiences of working with President Hage Geingob, who turned 75 today. He was speaking to managing editor Toivo Ndjebela.
At what time does the President start working on a typical day?
The President is an early riser, long before the elephants take their first pee of the day. He commences with the day’s news reports both online and print. He mixes his breakfast with NBC’s Good Morning Namibia TV show, before heading to either his study at home or office. No two days are typical or alike.
What is the first thing he does when he arrives at the office?
At office, Bertha, his long-term and able assistant, shares urgent paperwork for review. This can range from approvals, commentary on correspondence and agreeing to the schedule for the day and week. By the time he gets to the office he is completely debriefed on all key issues.
How often is he on the phone throughout the day, given the magnitude of his mandate?
He is an avid communicator, who is often either in brief meetings, on text, WhatsApp, or calls to various stakeholders. The demand on his time becomes even more complex as he is regularly consulted on domestic, regional and continental matters. These would usually run for most of the day.
Where does he have his lunch on weekdays?
Lunch is often a working session in office or a restaurant in town. He is constantly working on one or the other matter of State and many a day he would even neglect to eat. We saw this work rate during the marathon town hall meetings of last year – and the office set-up is no different.
Would you by any chance have an idea what his favourite lunch meal is?
We have noted that he eats fairly balanced meals. Any meal with meat seems to be the President’s preferred choice, however.
What is his approach to resolving office issues? In other words, how is his communication approach?
He is a curious combination of an old task master with the zeal of a modern communicator, who demands excellence from everyone. A tough teacher, but very fair in his handling of issues to be resolved. Every day one works with him is a pleasure filled with learning experiences to cherish for life and opportunities for deep reflection on matters of State and governance.
How often does he convene meetings with staff?
He sees most private office staff at least once a week and consults us daily. His consultative style is very admirable and something all staff value tremendously.
What time does he normally knock off at the end of the day?
I doubt his day ever ends, even if he leaves office long after everyone has gone home. This man’s absolute devotion to duty and his people is second to none and something many of us can emulate.